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The Twenty-First (21st) Century: An African Opportunity To Global Automobile Market

Karl Benz’s Patent-Motorwagen

In 1886 Karl Benz invented the first modern car (automobile) patenting his Benz patent-motorwagen in Germany.1 In spite of this invention in far away Europe, cars only became available to the masses in the early 20th century in America thanks to the innovativeness of Henry Ford’s production line later known around the world as Fordism.Another catalytic factor to the early adoption of cars as replacement for animal drawn carriages by the Americans was their liberalism, which was not too available in western Europe at that time. It actually took the courage of Engr. Karl Benz’s wife to introduce his invention to the world when she took the vehicle for a ride against the wish of her husband who locked his invention up in his garage out of fear and criticism.

In the 1930’s and 1950’s Nissan, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and Hino all assembled American and European cars through licenses using the Ford production line technique which accounted for 30% of Japanese car production from 1953 – 1959.3

Toyota on the other hand followed a completely different path deliberately avoiding the American and European technology and techniques, focused on developing its more efficient production systems specifically tailored to meet the Japanese market needs.4 This led to the development of the Lean Production Systems that has improved the quality of automobiles reducing production cost significantly.

Based on all that have been said it is quite easy to attribute the revolution of the global automobile industry to the invention of the first car in Germany, to its mass production in America, and to its improved production process in Japan. It is time for Africa to take a step back and learn from approaches that have actually worked in creating business that can truly last centuries. If Toyota had followed the likes of Nissan and Mitsubishi it would not have overtaken European and American brands as the largest car manufacturer in the world, a spot Toyota held for years until 2017.5 “Toyota redefined what was possible in the automobile industry, effectively pushing out the efficiency frontier and enabling the company to better differentiate its product offering at a cost level that its rivals couldn’t match”.6

With the advent of electric vehicles and the global outcry for an alternative for fossil cars, it is a priceless opportunity for Africa to contribute its innovativeness to the automobile industry. But what saddens the heart the most is to see African businesses choosing the path of Nissan, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Hino when most of the cars driven on our roads are Toyotas. For how long shall we continue to fake African development while the whole world leaves us behind? For how long shall we make Africa the dumping yard for unwanted technologies? Sometimes I think it’s the fear of failure but it’s definitely not the lack of professional expertise neither is the lack of natural resources/raw materials most of which are readily available in abundance.

Volta EV – Quantum 1

At Volta EV, we know it’s time for Africa to compete profitably in the new Electric Vehicle industry which is still at its infancy and we also know the age of fossil is at its dusk. We have taken it upon ourselves for the sake of our beloved continent which will be most affected by the effect of climate change, for the sake of our unborn children who will ask us the same question we are asking our parents; Why can’t we design and manufacture cars in Africa to meet our own specific needs when history has it that iron metallurgy started in Sub-Saharan Africa? VoltaEV will not assemble Completely Knocked Down (CKD) versions of existing foreign cars and call it made in Africa, we are here to put Africa on the global map with a truly indigenous and innovative technological designs from Africa.


  1. Car – Wikipedia. 2018. Car – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car. [Accessed 09 October 2018].
  2. Bonanno, Robert J. Antonia and Alessandro. “A New Global Capitalism? From “Americanism and Fordism” to “Americanization -Globalization.” American Study, no. 41 (2000): 33-77
  3. Based on data in Amagai Shogo, Nihon jidosha kogyo no shiteki tenkai [The Historical Development of the Japanese Automobile Industry] (Tokyo: Aki Shobo, 1982); and Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Nihon no jidosha kogyo [The Japanese Automobile Industry] (Tokyo: Annual Report).
  4. MIT Sloan Management Review. 2018. Manufacturing Innovation: Lessons from the Japanese Auto Industry. [ONLINE] Available at: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/manufacturing-innovation-lessons-from-the-japanese-auto-industry/. [Accessed 08 October 2018].
  5. BBC News. 2018. Volkswagen overtakes Toyota as the world’s biggest carmaker – BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-38793253. [Accessed 09 October 2018].
  6. Hill.Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach Theory & Cases 11th ed., 11th Edition.



Why Be Fossil When You Can Go Electric?


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) transport accounted for about 23% of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 and 27% of end-use energy emissions with urban transport accounting for about 40% of end-use energy consumption. I am sure you’ll agree with me that 2010 is a long time ago and these figures would have gone higher even with all the improvements in fuel efficiency. Our real solution still has to be a final burial for the fossil vehicles.

A major difference between battery powered cars (Electric Cars) and gasoline cars (Fossil Cars) is the quantity of energy they each carry.  As of 2015, a Nissan leaf  with battery equivalent of 2/3rd a gallon of petrol, can travel 85miles while a gasoline car can barely go 20miles  on the same quantity of fuel. It is true that the century old dominant internal combustion engine vehicles (i.e Diesel and Petrol Engine) currently boasts of a higher energy density but the electric vehicle still has the lowest fuel cost.

Climate change is real and more often than not, it is the poorest that gets served the most. According to Dessalegn and Akalu (2015), climatic temperature in the continent of Africa alone will rise by 2 to 6°C over the next 100years with predicted losses of about $26 million by 2060 due to climate change. The pressing need to take active actions toward the disastrous effects of climate change has created an entirely new world.

Vast investments have been and are being made globally into developing an alternative to fuel vehicles (i.e Internal Combustion Engine), of all the potential solutions, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are among the most popular and cleanest option with zero greenhouse emission or pollutant. Trying to list all negative effects of CO emissions would be a waste of time as it is happening all around us, this is why we need to further change our mindset and face the realities of our ever changing world.

The decision to own a car in Nigeria is often driven by two key motives either as a symbol of social status or purely for the purpose of mobility in general. Irrelevant of the motive behind the buying, it is time we started thinking about what powers our vehicles as an essential criteria in our buying decisions.

Governments around the globe are putting policies and incentives in place to further encourage innovation in the areas of renewable energy with Nigeria being the 146th nation to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. Private investors are  investing now more than ever in powerful battery technologies such as the Li-S (Lithium-Sulfur) as a replacement for the Li-ion (Abba et all, 2017).

It’s a no win situation for the fossil engine cars because Electric Cars are here to stay. EVs are cheaper to maintain, environmental friendly, zero pollution, and a cleaner option.



  1. World Health Organization. 2018. WHO | Climate impacts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/sustainable-development/transport/health-risks/climate-impacts/en/. [Accessed 03 September 2018].
  2. Dessalegn Obsi Gemeda, Akalu Dafisa Sima. “The impacts of climate change on African continent and the way forward.” Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment7, no. 10 (2015): 256-262.
  3. Abbas Fotouhi, Daniel J. Auger, Laura O’Neill , Tom Cleaver and Sylwia Walus. “Lithium-Sulfur Battery Technology Readiness and Applications—A Review .” 2017.
  4. Types of Batteries Used for Electric Vehicles. 2018. Types of Batteries Used for Electric Vehicles. [ONLINE] Available at: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2016/ph240/mok2/. [Accessed 03 September 2018].

Range anxiety and the impatient nature of the average Nigerian.


Since electric vehicles began to debut over 10 years ago, there has been a major debate over how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle versus filling up your gas tank. It takes an average of 5 to 10 minutes to fill up your tank depending on your tank capacity and also, pay for the fuel you purchased, this scenario is only valid during non-scarcity times and 2 to 3 hrs.’ during scarcity periods.  Most EV charging is done at with the use of home charging kits that come on request when buying electric cars, you can add as much 500 km of range using a 6 to 8 hrs.’ charging run at home.

The advent of different car charging equipment from the J1722 American standard to the EU’s IEC 61851 has brought about different levels of charging infrastructure which will help advance deployment of fast charging stations and home chargers in Nigeria, this is putting into retrospect our nominal standard voltage rate of 220v.

Level 1 and Level 2 charging is mostly found on home kits and can take as much 6 to 8 hrs.’ to charge a vehicle to 80% rate depending on the battery capacity as they make use of the EV’s embedded charging unit.

Level 3 and Level 4 charging infrastructure can get your car up to 80% rate within 1 to 3 hrs.’ because they bypass the onboard charging unit in the car and have different voltage boasting capabilities like DC chargers and are mostly found in public places or EV public charging stations.

VOLTAEV’s charging infrastructure plan

The life line of our EV is in our ability to build and increase the spread of our charging stations within close proximity of its customers to avert complete battery drain during use.

VoltaEV plans to install 150 to 220 level 3 public charging infrastructure within the next 5 years in major cities in Nigeria and over 1000 charging stations, this will also be accompanied with level 1 charging home kits that will come with every VoltaEV Quantum1 sold.

Every 100% owned VoltaEV charging station will have mini cinemas and games lobby with partnerships from quick service restaurants while shared infrastructures will only possess waiting lobbies.

What does this mean for your pocket?

Basically if your fuel spend runs between NGN 10,000 to NGN 25,000 monthly you will spend approximately NGN 3,000 to NGN 6,000 Monthly charging your Quantum1 that’s when using our charging stations, But that figure changes if you are only using our home kit, which also has solar charging abilities then your monthly spend on charging your Quantum1 will be Zero “NGN 0”.

Also every Quantum1 has a 120km range extender which can be detached and taken into an office, home or public place for charging.

Let us know what you think in the comments section?